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Jeff Sessions Aiding Trans Victims? It's a Publicity Stunt, Says Lambda Legal


The attorney general dispatches a top lawyer to prosecute the murder of a gender-nonconforming teen. But his policies encourage violence against LGBT people, according to Lambda Legal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is fine with demoralizing and dehumanizing LGBT people, but killing may just be a step too far. That's the conclusion of the organization Lambda Legal, which blasted the nation's top cop for seemingly hypocritical actions.

In a rare move, Sessions is dispatching a top federal hate-crimes lawyer head to Iowa to help prosecute the murder of 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson, a teen who identified as gay, both male and female, and occassionally used the name Kandicee. The Burlington, Iowa, teen was shot to death in March of last year. Jorge "Lumni" Sanders-Galvez, 23, will stand trial next week for Johnson's murder; another man may be indicted in the crime.

While Johnson's friends and family will undoubtably appreciate the weight of federal prosecutors on their side, Sessions's decision on the case does not correspond to any other actions he's taken on LGBT people, specifically trans and gender-nonconforming individuals.

"Of course it is important and right that the Department of Justice assist in bringing to justice the murderer of Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, one of the far too many transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, targeted in the ongoing lethal epidemic of hate violence," Lambda Legal, a nonprofit LGBT organization, writes in a press release. "But it is the height of cynicism for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use this -- frankly rare -- instance of civil rights enforcement under his tenure to deflect from the current department's sustained opposition to its historic mission.

No one in the Trump administration has done more to harm LGBT people, and especially transgender people, than Jeff Sessions - and in a government chock full of anti-LGBT appointees, that is saying a lot.

From revoking the guidance that assured trans kids they were welcome in school to asserting that transgender workers do not deserve protection against employment discrimination to defending Trump's unconstitutional ban of transgender troops, Sessions has again and again defined transgender Americans as second-class citizens and has created an environment that encourages and enables violence against trans people.

He has similarly undermined the civil rights and safety of people of color, through such actions as his order to review all consent decrees designed to address systemic police violence.

For Sessions now to seek credit for helping prosecute hate crimes against transgender people is akin to him handing out gasoline and matches and then looking for a pat on the back when he prosecutes someone for committing arson.

We hope that the Senators questioning Sessions at Wednesday's oversight hearing of the Judiciary Committee are not distracted by this publicity stunt designed for their benefit and instead hold him accountable for the Department of Justice's appalling failure to do its job under his direction."

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